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Gin Kings even series

  • Written by Elmer N. Manuel
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 225

Game Wednesday

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

7 p.m. -- Ginebra vs. Meralco

BARANGAY Ginebra left its heartbreaking Game 1 loss behind and asserted its mastery in the endgame for a thrilling 82-79 Game 2 victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings evened out the best-of-seven finals affair to 1-1 in front of the 18,287-strong crowd that trooped to the Big Dome, thus making the showdown more interesting.
   
Justin Brownlee carried the fight for Ginebra, finishing with 32 points and 12 rebounds to earn the best player of the game honors.
   
Not to be outdone, Sol Mercado and Mark Caguioa led the locals’ scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
   
The Gin Kings actually started off strong to shake off the Game 1 nightmare they had, as Brownlee, LA Tenorio and Caguioa put up a 20-14 lead in the first period.
   
But the Bolts came back strong as import Allen Durham, Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag  -- who also broke the PBA All-time record in three-point shots made  -- connived for points and took a 44-43 advantage at the break.
  
“We said in halftime that if we can’t get them on offense, we’ll get them in defense,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
   
Cone also had praises for his wards, especially on Mercado, who was tasked to defend Durham in the second half.
  
“Sol (Mercado) is a tough guy, we though we can put him on that position,” said Cone.
   
After a 79-all count in the last 1:21 of the game, Mercado grabbed the crucial offensive rebound after a Tenorio miss to take an 81-79 advantage in the last 28.2 seconds.
   
Tenorio then split his charities in the ensuing play, making it 82-79 with 13.4 left.
   
Meralco had the chance to send the game again in overtime but Durham missed an open trey, while Cliff Hodge also botched the three-point attempt as the time expired.
  
Meanwhile, Talk N Text’s Jayson Castro added another feather to his cap after bagging the Best Player of the Conference award despite the ouster of the Tropang Texters in the season-ending conference.
   
The fleet-footed shooting guard nicknamed ‘The Blur’ won the award for the fourth time in a storied career.
   
In taking the top individual plum in the season-ending tournament, Castro edged June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer in what was one of the closest BPC race in years.
   
Castro was slightly ahead of the SMB slotman in the statistical points with his 38.3 points but got enough votes from votes from media, players, and the Commissioner’s office.
   
Fajardo, whose team also failed to make the finals after losing to Barangay Ginebra in the semifinals, finished with 37.8 SPs at the end of the semis.
   
Castro averaged 23.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.1 steals this conference.
   
The 30-year-old Castro won his fourth BPC award and first since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup when he led the Texters to the title.
   
Durham, who led Meralco to its first ever finals stint, was adjudged the best import, beating out Justine Brownlee of Barangay Ginebra.
  
Durham nicknamed “The Hulk” had averages of 29.4 points, 15.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks in the conference.
   
The scores:
   
Ginebra (82) -- Brownlee 32, Mercado 12, Caguioa 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 9, Aguilar 6, Devance 2, Helterbrand 2, Cruz 0, Marcelo 0.
   
Meralco (79) -- Durham 22, Hodge 16, Newsome 10, Hugnatan 9, Nabong 6, Amer 4, Caram 4, Alapag 3, Uyloan 3, Faundo 2.
   
Quarterscores: 24-21, 43-44, 69-60, 82-79.